Brendan Fraser, who plays Dr. Jekyll in The Mummy Returns, has defended the film’s use of CGI for the villainous Scorpion King. From 1999 through 2008, Fraser starred as the adventurer Rick O’Connell in three installments of the Mummy film series. Dwayne Johnson made his film debut in the villainous role of Mathayus the Scorpion King in the 2001 sequel The Mummy Returns. Johnson starred in The Scorpion King in 2002, but he didn’t reteam with Fraser for The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor.
Since the film’s release 20 years ago, The Mummy Returns has been roundly panned for using computer-generated imagery (CGI) to bring Johnson’s Scorpion King to life onscreen. The film’s visual effects crew has previously discussed the effects’ inability to withstand the passage of time, providing some context for the Scorpion King’s unflattering appearance. Fraser defends The Mummy Returns’ outmoded CGI Scorpion King in a video for GQ, in which he discusses the issue. Take a look at what he has to say below:
“I know, I know, be kind. The guys who did the CGI of the Scorpion King, at the premiere, they were like, ‘hey, how are you, good job. You know, we did the CG for the Scorpion King.’ And they kind of went, ‘yeah, we needed a little more time [Laughs] before we…’ But it was very last minute, I don’t know. But some of the charm of it is that when you watch it now, like it could get remastered I guess, but it kinda wouldn’t be as fun if you didn’t see this sort of janky video character of Dwayne going ‘rawwwh.’ [Laughs] And somehow, it’s just perfect, how things work out.”
Changes in CGI use since 2001 have made The Mummy Returns’ special effects appear even more “janky,” in Fraser’s words. However, the actor says that not even the visual effects (VFX) crew was happy with the character’s appearance in the film’s final cut. John Berton Jr., the visual effects supervisor for The Mummy Returns, has said in the past that Johnson’s hectic schedule prevented his team from obtaining the references they required and that Fraser and Johnson didn’t even meet until the film had already finished shooting.
Despite the well-known problems with the Scorpion King’s CGI, which have been the subject of derision by Mummy fans in the years following the release of the sequel, Fraser makes an interesting point about the situation. The dated CGI contributes to the film’s cult status, which has only increased in the twenty years after The Mummy Returns’ first release. The humorous parts in the Mummy franchise usually provide a great balance to the action, which sometimes lends itself to an over-the-top and ridiculous attitude. Thus, the ridiculousness of the Scorpion King’s costume in The Mummy Returns can diminish the horror of the film’s hideous antagonist. However, it does increase the show’s entertainment value.
Is Mummy 4 happening?
Although they never worked together on set during the production of The Mummy Returns, Brendan Fraser and Aaron Johnson have publicly supported one another in the twenty-one years since the film’s release. Most of Fraser’s franchise co-stars remain on good terms with him, and they’ve all expressed happiness over his recent success thanks to his critically acclaimed picture The Whale. Some fans have held out hope for a fourth installment of The Mummy because of the chemistry between the actors and Fraser’s repeated statements of interest in directing another Mummy film. It’s exciting for fans of the original franchise to think that, with Fraser on board, The Mummy 4 may follow in the footsteps of numerous legacy sequels and action reboots released in recent years.